After flak, Haryana CM puts notification on sportspersons’ income on hold

Manohar Lal Khattar

New Delhi, June 8: Within hours of a controversy generated by the issuing of a notification asking sportspersons to deposit one-third of their earnings with the Haryana Sports Council, the state government put the notification on hold.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tweeted that he had put the notification on hold and called for the file.

“I have asked for the relevant file of Sports Department to be shown to me & the notification dated 30th April to be put on hold till further orders. We are proud of the immense contribution by our sportspersons & I assure them of a just consideration of all issues affecting them,” Khattar said in his tweet on Friday evening, after the notification drew criticism from sportspersons and opposition parties.

The Haryana government drew flak from the sporting fraternity over its move to seek one-third earnings of its sportspersons who have government jobs.

The state government had earlier on Friday defended its decision to do so. The notification issued by the Sports and Youth Welfare Department Principal Secretary Ashok Khemka had directed sportspersons from Haryana to hand over one third of their earnings from professional events and endorsement to the sports council.

“One third of the income of sportspersons from professional sports or commercial endorsement will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council. The money shall be used for development of sports in the state,” the order signed by Khemka on April 27 read.

Though the move has drawn widespread condemnation from athletes, Sports Minister Anil Vij as well as Khemka, a senior IAS officer, defended the move.

“There is nothing new in this decision. It is an old government rule. Under Rule 56, if a government employee earns professional or commercial income, he has to deposit one third of the earning with the state government. We had allowed (international boxer) Vijender Singh to play professionally. The (Punjab and Haryana) High Court asked us to frame rules in this regard. We have brought out the rules now,” Vij said on Friday.

Khemka said the notification had been issued after the state gave an assurance to the court that the Haryana government would bring a policy vis-a-vis those who play professional sports. “Normally, government employees are not allowed to play professional sports. The money will be used for the benefit of sportspersons only.”

On the other hand, star wrestler Geeta Phogat expressed her disappointment saying it seems the policies are being made by illiterate people. ” I am saddened by the notification. It seems as if illiterate people are making policies. Do they not know that we’re already paying taxes on money we win in competitions? If this is how things are going to work the medal count will go down,” she said.

“This new rule makes a mockery of sportspersons. There is no such rule for cricketers who earn much more than those from other sports. Cricketers make a lot of money from endorsement but those from other sports like boxing, kabaddi, and wrestling do not earn much.

“If we give up a third of our earnings, what will be left for us?” she asked.

International sportspersons like wrestler Sushil Kumar and others have also questioned Haryana’s move to “take away the hard-earned money of sportspersons”.

Speaking to ANI, Sushil asked the policy to be reviewed. “Govt should establish a committee of senior sports-persons & take their input before forming a policy of this type. This will affect the morale of sports-persons & might affect their performance,” he added.

Sportspersons, including women, from Haryana have brought laurels to the country in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in recent years. As many as 22 of the 66 medals won by India in Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in April were won by sportspersons from Haryana.

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